A recent survey by Remchannel has shed light on the growing interest among South African corporates in adopting a four-day workweek model. The survey, encompassing 85 significant corporations from various sectors, revealed that while only a handful are currently experimenting with this model, over 80% are aware of trials within the South African business community.
Reflecting on the results, Remchannel’s managing director, Rene Richter, explained, “The findings of our survey highlight the ongoing evolution in South Africa’s corporate sector. Companies are increasingly considering the 4-day workweek model as an opportunity to better align with the needs of their employees, and in turn, increase productivity.”
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Countries such as the UK, New Zealand, and Japan have previously trialled a four-day workweek, often recording improved employee morale, reduced burnout, and sustained or even increased productivity. Yet, critics caution about potential issues, like increased workload during the shorter week, and argue that the model best suits service-based industries.
Significantly, 72% of respondents in the Remchannel survey believe the four-day workweek could greatly enhance talent retention. The majority were confident that it would bolster employee work-life balance.
The survey presented compelling figures in favour of a four-day workweek:
- 80% of employers had heard of the four-day workweek trial in South Africa;
- 55% believe that it can lead to cost savings;
- 62% believe it can lead to increased productivity;
- 60% believe the model can improve employee performance;
- 88% believe it can improve employees’ work-life balance;
- 58% said their employees would prefer it; and
- 71% say it would increase talent retention.
However, respondents also identified several challenges in implementing this model. One key issue was a potential pay cut associated with the reduced workweek, with 77% believing employees would not be prepared to take a pay cut for a four-day workweek. Moreover, 88% suggested that specific industries or job roles were better suited to this arrangement.
Richter highlighted the need for a balanced solution, stating, “The challenge lies in finding a mutually beneficial solution. The introduction of a four-day workweek should not compromise employees’ remuneration. Innovative working models should aim to boost productivity while maintaining, if not improving, the current wage structures.”
Richter also urged businesses to explore alternative models, such as a flexible 40-hour workweek not confined to specific days, offering another layer of adaptability to the changing work landscape.
“The survey opens up a meaningful dialogue on the future of work in South Africa,” she concluded. “As companies continue experimenting and adapting to new models, the corporate landscape is anticipated to shift dramatically in the coming years, driven by the dual goals of enhancing employee well-being and optimising productivity.”